“It was scary,” say refugees from Vovchansk, describing scenes of fighting in the city

Russia said on Friday it was making progress in the Ukrainian region of Kharkiv, where it has been carrying out an offensive for a week.



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Like this woman, dozens of Ukrainian civilians were evacuated from the village of Vovchansk, Ukraine, on May 16, 2024. (ROMAN PILIPEY / AFP)

In a fluorescent yellow down jacket, her face bruised, Inna is exhausted. The mother has just arrived from Vovchansk. “There is no more cityshe says. We spent the week in the basement. We had nothing to eat, I’m hungry… And now, I want a good coffeeé”. If Ukraine has said it is containing the Russian military advance in the northeast of the country, the situation remains “extremely difficult” according to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Since the beginning of May, Moscow is currently leading an offensive in this area, reaping its most significant territorial gains since the end of 2022. Friday May 17, Russia thus claimed to be making progress in the Ukrainian region of Kharkiv, with the objective, according to Vladimir Putin is to create a buffer zone to prevent strikes by kyiv on Russian territory. Fleeing the conflicts, the population finds itself on the road and tries to find refuge near Kharkiv.

On the spot, everything is burning, everywhere, there is smoke, Inna then describes. I ran from one basement to another, fell and broke my nose on our firewood in the basement. After a nightmarish night, a bomb fell at the neighbor’s house. There is a crater two meters deep. She and her husband ended up leaving town…”, she regrets. Visibly tested by these entire days of relentless fighting, the mother describes scenes of guerrilla warfare.

“The Urkainian soldiers are hiding in the houses. But the drones spot them and target them… They were shooting from everywhere in the neighborhood. It was scary.”

It’s hard to leave your house. My heart aches for the parrot I forgot. He’s going to starve“, sighs Loudmila, 71 years old. She waited until the last moment to leave. And she also describes war scenes: “That fired from all sides night and day. Leaving the house was difficult. We ended up leaving, and we passed a destroyed tank. Something exploded and drones were flying all around.

Arriving with nothing at the evacuation center, Loudmila collects some clothes, donations from the inhabitants of Kharkiv. “Many of the volunteers here are from Kharkiv themselves. They come every day to help people they don’t know at all or, sometimes, relatives. Today, Kharkiv has 1 million inhabitants and we are like a big family“, defends Anatoli Borets, of the organization “Right to Protection”. According to the emergency services, 8,800 people have been evacuated in recent days. “And it’s not over“, sighs a volunteer.

source site-25